A Labour MP has said a long-awaited government inquiry into Britain’s sharia courts is ‘Islamophobic’ and should be dropped, proposing the religious legal system should be offered state ‘support’. Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s launch of the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry Naz Shah, who will give evidence, argued the courts were “complimentary” to British law and were simply “under-resourced”. She also claimed members of the Muslim community had said they thought the inquiry was “Islamophobic and racist”. The MP’s intervention comes as more than 100 Muslim women, lead by the Muslim Women’s Network UK, called for the inquiry to be shut down, arguing it would treat women like “political footballs”.
Sharia councils discriminate against Muslim women when they are seeking a religious divorce, MPs have been told. The Home Affairs Committee heard evidence about the councils, which use Islamic law to grant divorces. Maryam Namazi, of One Law for All, said the council process was “tantamount to abuse”, with women told to stay silent and domestic violence justified. Khola Hasan, a woman who sits on a UK Sharia council, said they offered women a service not available elsewhere. At the hearing, witnesses explained that even after a civil divorce, a family or community might not accept the marriage was over until a religious divorce had taken place.
Closing Sharia councils in Britain could mean more women stuck in abusive marriages, the chair of the Muslim Women’s network has claimed ahead of a parliamentary inquiry into their practices. Shaista Ghoir, chair of the charity that works to improve social justice and equality for Muslim women, told Radio 4’s Todayprogramme that Muslim women “do not want Sharia councils shut down” and doing so would only force them to operate illegally It is estimated that around 20 to 30 of the councils operate across Britain, which settle disputes using an Islamic religious law. On Tuesday the influential Home Affairs Select Committee in Westminster will begin its inquiry, providing a unique view into the little-known operations of the councils. It comes after more than 100 women also signed an open letter to the committee claiming the role of Sharia has been widely misunderstood.
Unofficial and unregulated Sharia law bodies are operating “everywhere in the country” preforming marriages and handing out divorces, the head of a body set up to standardise the administration of Islamic law in the UK has told MPs. Dr Ahmad Al-Dubayan, chairman of UK Board of Sharia Councils, based in Regent’s Park Mosque in London, said it was impossible to know how many so-called sharia “councils” are operating in Britain. But in some cases self-styled sharia authorities are operating out of small shops “maybe hidden in the basement or somewhere”, he said. One widely-quoted think-tank report, published seven years ago , estimated that there are at least 85 sharia bodies in the UK but Dr Al-Dubayan said the true extent is unknown. He was addressing members of the Commons Home Affairs Committee as it began an inquiry into the operation of bodies administering sharia law.
Dirty hospitals are serving out-of-date food to patients, an investigation has found. Meals are being prepared in mouldy kitchens, putting vulnerable patients at “high risk” of food poisoning, while others have unclean worktops, food trolleys and sinks. Food hygiene reports obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act and data from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), also revealed poor rankings for hundreds of care homes and children’s nurseries. Some 400 hospitals, hospices, care homes, nurseries and school clubs are currently listed as needing “major”, “urgent” or “necessary” improvement. One care home was infested with cockroaches while another had evidence of rats. The Patients Association has called the findings “shameful” and “immensely worrying”.
A STAGGERING 15 per cent of NHS trusts are now in special measures as the NHS funding crisis deepens. St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the latest in a “roll-call of high profile trusts” to be taken into special measures as they struggle to deal with an ongoing spending squeeze that will worsen under government plans, Health Campaigns Together spokesman John Lister said yesterday. A Care Quality Commission report rated the trust, which serves 1.3 million people in south-west London, as inadequate, highlighting a number of concerns including operating theatres that were not fit for purpose. St George’s helped draw up controversial plans as part of a Home Office pilot scheme demanding passports and ID from pregnant women before they gave birth.
Health chiefs have told Jeremy Hunt they need billions of pounds more in funding to avoid a crisis in the NHS and social care. The dire warning comes as three health areas revealed they face a combined shortfall of more than £2.4billion by the end of the decade. They say that without extra money they will struggle to meeting waiting times, provide enough hospital beds and even basic levels of social care. The verdict is contained in the newly published Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for Birmingham and Solihull, North Centra London and South West London. Sustainability and Transformation Plans were ordered by NHS England boss Simon Stephens in December 2015 and charged 44 regions in England to come up with a five-year programme for providing health and social care in their areas.
More than 400 hospitals, care homes and nurseries are failing to meet basic food hygiene standards, figures reveal today. Inspectors found kitchens infested with rats and cockroaches, flies in washbasins and mouldy walls. A detailed analysis identified 401 hospitals, care homes, schools and hospices that the Foods Standards Agency rated as two or lower out of five, which means they were failing to take basic hygiene measures. Inspectors visiting the Ivy House care home in Derby even saw a rats’ nest. They also noted droppings on the floor, putting residents at risk of Weil’s disease, which can cause organ failure. Although the percentage of organisations rated as failing is small, some of the hygiene reports are shocking, the Press Association report revealed.
A would-be Ukip leader has said paedophiles should receive the death penalty – but not if the victim “looks 18”. John Rees-Evans, who has previously suggested a gay donkey raped his horse , suggested only abusers of “pre-pubescent” children would face the penalty under his re-introduction of capital punishment, suggesting it would only apply when the victim was under the age of 13. In an extraordinary policy position that even shocked fellow Ukip leadership contenders, Rees-Evans was speaking during a debate held by LBC radio when he caveated his position on paedophiles facing the death penalty – arguing it depends “what you define as a paedophile”.
UKIP leadership candidate Peter Whittle tonight suggested both the EU and Hillary Clinton are as bad as Russian president Vladimir Putin. The London Assembly member, who is bidding to take charge of Ukip in the party’s second leadership contest since the EU referendum, branded President Putin a “pretty unsavoury character”. But, appearing on an LBC Radio debate between the four Ukip leadership candidates, Mr Whittle insisted the “expansionist” aims of Russia can be compared to Brussels’ bosses own desires to increase the size of the EU. Asked whether President Putin poses a threat to UK security, Mr Whittle replied: “He’s a pretty unsavoury character, there’s no question. “Obviously there is an expansionist impulse there, there’s no question. “I have to say, without wishing to go over old arguments too much, is there’s also a huge expansionist impulse in the EU as well and so this makes for a very, very difficult and very touchy situation.”
Ukip leadership favourite Paul Nuttall has praised Nigel Farage’s controversial anti-migrant poster, saying it made an “absolutely correct” point that there is a “deluge of people coming from the Middle East”. Nuttall, the former deputy leader, backed the poster during a hustings event for Ukip leadership candidates on radio station LBC , which descended into bickering and acrimony over issues ranging from homophobia to the death penalty. “The point behind that poster was absolutely correct. We do need to get control of our borders and there is a deluge of people coming from the Middle East. And the EU’s idea of a common asylum policy isn’t the route to go down,” he said when asked for his views on the campaign image. He also said there had only been a slight increase in hate crime following Brexit, while arguing that it was not out of the ordinary because it “happens after any national event”.
Ukip activists should sign up to train as teachers so that they can influence what children are taught from an early age, one of the frontrunners for the party’s leadership has said. Suzanne Evans, who is currently the party’s deputy chair, told a gathering of Ukip activists that “young minds are formed in schools” and that more of the party’s supporters should enter the profession. She proposed that Ukip-aligned teachers conduct a programme of entryism into the National Union of Teachers (NUT) with a view to making sure more teachers having contact with children were “good ‘kippers”. Another leadership candidate, London Assembly member Peter Whittle, also told the same meeting that the law should be changed so that “every school has a union jack and a picture of the Queen”.
A UKIP leadership front-runner has said tackling radical Islam is the ‘next big battle’ for the party. Candidate Suzanne Evans, who was suspended from the party earlier this year, said it was time for the party to fight multiculturalism as strongly as it previously tackled uncontrolled migration and the European Union. She said: ‘One of things I feel very strongly about is radical Islam. The EU we’ve fought, immigration we’ve fought. This is, I think, the next big battle. ‘I want to fight this from a feminist perspective, because I think the way women are treated by Sharia law and FGM is staggering. How can this be happening in our country in this day and age? ‘I get so angry about the fact that I have certain rights as a white middle-class woman that a woman in a minority community doesn’t have. That is unacceptable.’
The UK’s treatment of child refugees is to be reviewed after pressure from Labour MPs and campaign groups, who have criticised the process for taking in unaccompanied minors . Edward Timpson, an education minister, announced that the government is to publish a strategy by next May to examine how vulnerable asylum-seeking children can be protected. The new strategy will look at speeding up the process that identifies whether refugee children have a legal right to live in Britain. Funding for local authorities to support and care for refugee children will be regularly reviewed and children’s commissioners across the UK could be given powers to make representations on behalf of minors coming to Britain. Ministers will also consult on what more they can do to prevent these vulnerable children from going missing and look at introducing a standard set of actions for police who encounter an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.
Major reform of the system for managing flood risk is needed, a Commons environment and rural affairs committee report has said. There should be a UK floods supremo, new flooding and coastal boards and a rivers and coastal authority, it said. MPs said floodwater should be stored on agricultural land, urged tougher rules on house builders and stricter standards on repairing flooded homes. The government said it it saw no need for organisational change. The MPs disagree. They are unhappy with the Environment Agency’s recent performance over flooding and want to see it stripped of powers, which would be handed to the proposed new bodies. This is the latest in a number of reports triggered by last winter’s devastating floods in the north of England.
A TOP secret nuclear city where thousands are being kept in a radioactive experiment zone has been revealed in a chilling new documentary. More than 82,000 people are living within the “Orwellian” scenario in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where their every move is being monitored by Kremlin spies, the documentary claims. Cut off from the rest of the country, it lies within the walled city of Ozyorks in the Chelyabinsk Oblast region – codenamed City 40. Its residents are living in a Soviet petri dish, next to a “lake of death” where almost all of Vlad’s nuclear arsenal is stockpiled from the Cold War. Around 12% of the population are employed by a plutonium handling facility that rose to prominence before the Soviet Union’s collapse. It appears to be business as usual for the plant, after Putin ducked out of a nuclear peace deal meeting with the US this year. A brand new Netflix documentary called City 40 reveals most of its population are now suffering from cancer.
UNDER-PRESSURE Ukrainian officials have spotted an array of Russian aircraft practising huge bombing raids on their country as it braces itself for a full-scale invasion. The east European country is digging in because they are convinced Vladimir Putin wants over-run it and topple its pro-West government. Tension remain high after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and also because of an ongoing conflict between Ukrainian troops and Kremlin backed Russian separatists in the Donbass region. Ukraine’s armed services are working round the clock to dig trenches, install tank traps, road blocks and to build bunkers to repel an invasion. But its military chiefs now fear a knock-out onslaught from the sky after they detected a massive Russian carrying out dummy runs on key installations.
Russia has become “increasingly aggressive” in pursuing its foreign policy goals and is “at work across Europe and in the UK today”, the head of MI5 has warned. Andrew Parker, the Security Service’s director general, said Russia had been a “covert threat” for decades but there were now more methods available for its agents to use. These include propaganda, spying and cyberattacks, he said. Mr Parker added that at a time when much of the focus was on Islamic extremism, covert action from Russia and other countries was a growing danger.
Suggestions that Britain could go to war with Russia next year are “too extreme”, the Defence Secretary has said. In a hearing of the Commons Defence Committee Michael Fallon said while there had been “much greater Russian aggression” in 2015, a war next year was not likely. When a member of the committee suggested to the minister that a new book by General Sir Richard Shirreff predicted a war with Russia in 2017, Mr Fallon said: “Well, there are a lot of people writing books and trying to sell them, and his is a very good one. However, I don’t agree that war with Russia is likely next year. I think that is too extreme. “We have seen much greater Russian aggression this year, and in previous years, in terms of long-range aviation, in terms of submarine activity, and the carrier task group that sailed through our waters, the role of Russia in Syria, and elsewhere. But I don’t think that presages an open conflict next year.